In our office, fluoride therapy is an important, but optional part of our prevention program.
We design a personalized preventive program for each of our patients – both children and adults – depending on their particular needs. Fluoride therapy is an effective part of a prevention program.
Listed below are some of the ways fluoride is used. One or more of these therapies may be used, depending on each person’s needs.
Topical Fluoride Professional Treatments
Fluoride can be applied to the surfaces of the teeth in the form of a rinse, gel, or foam. A prescription dosage is used for best results. The fluoride is absorbed into the enamel surface to strengthen and harden it so that the surface becomes more resistant to tooth decay. Periodic application is necessary to be effective over the years.
Fluoride Varnish Application
Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted on teeth to help prevent new cavities and to help stop cavities that have just started. It is used to protect the enamel. This therapy is ideal for children, especially young children since it is easy to apply and does not require the teeth to be dry.
At-Home Monitored Fluoride Therapy
Prescription strength fluoride application is used by both children and adults. This type of therapy is most often used to treat specific conditions such as chronic sensitivity, chronic dry mouth (xerostomia), Sjogren’s syndrome high oral acidity, high incidence of tooth decay, or to protect mouths with a substantial amount of dental work. Topical application of fluoride can be used during chemotherapy treatments also.
The best fluoride protection occurs while the enamel is forming on the developing teeth of children. Systemic fluoride is available through community water supplies that either have naturally occurring levels of fluoride that are optimal or have had fluoride added to reach optimal levels. However, to be effective, fluoride must be ingested daily. When appropriate, fluoride supplements in the form of a tablet or liquid vitamins containing fluoride are very effective. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has many uses in dentistry. Fluoride is a proven preventive and therapeutic agent for children and adults of all ages.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Tooth decay develops on the surface of a tooth due to repeated exposure to acids produced by plaque bacteria. The acid from the mouth bacteria slowly weaken and dissolve the enamel surface. If allowed to continue, the acid attacks lead to a soft area on the tooth known as tooth decay. Tooth decay continually progresses, becoming deeper over time until the decay reaches the nerve inside the tooth. The nerve becomes infected, causing an abscessed tooth.
When fluoride is applied to the tooth surface before tooth decay develops, it hardens the enamel to make it more resistant to acid-producing bacteria. If fluoride therapy is begun at the earliest stage of the tooth decay process, it is absorbed into the weakened tooth surface to rebuild and strengthen the enamel.
Relief of Tooth Sensitivity
Many people report discomfort brought about by exposure of root surfaces to hot, cold, touch, tooth brushing or a combination of these factors. Normally, the root surfaces that are not covered by tooth enamel are below the surface of the gum tissue and are protected. When they become exposed due to tooth brushing abrasion or gum disease, the nerve endings can be sensitive.
Regular application of fluoride in the form of a rinse or a gel can reduce or eliminate sensitivity caused by receding gums. The fluoride is absorbed into the tooth root surfaces, which are porous. The fluoride seals these sensitive pores and insulates the nerve endings on the surface of the exposed roots. In the case of chronic or severe sensitivity, a Custom Fluoride Appliance can be made that fits over the teeth and sensitive gum surfaces. Fluoride is placed in the appliance in order to direct the fluoride medication to the areas that need attention.
Decrease the Number and Activity of Tooth Decay-Causing Bacteria
Regular use of fluoride in both children and adults greatly decreases the population of the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. The harmful bacteria do not survive well in the presence of fluoride.
Decay-causing bacteria in dental plaque produce acid, which in turn dissolves or de-mineralizes the tooth enamel. Fluoride acts to repair or re-mineralize the enamel in the early stage (“white spots”) of the tooth decay process.
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